Comedian Deborah Frances-White on guilty feminism, trans inclusion and exploring her bisexuality

A publicity photo showing comedian Deborah Frances-White from The Guilty Feminist, wearing a red outfit

Seven years after Deborah Frances-White released the first episode of her hit podcast, The Guilty Feminist, she knows there is still so much to learn and discover about feminism. 

The Guilty Feminist hinges around one key phrase: “I’m a feminist but…”. It is a space for ordinary people to have a safe place to learn about feminism and admit where they sometimes slip up.

One of its many lessons is that nobody is perfect – and that being an ally is a continued learning experience.

Deborah recalls visiting Sydney (she was born in Australia), where she spoke with a Fa’afafine Samoan poet. Fa’afafine are people who, in Western terms, identify with a third gender or non-binary role, but Deborah learnt it was so much more than that. 

“It can really be anything from a gay man to a trans woman through to non-binary,” she remembers the poet telling her.

“When I asked, ‘well, how do you know, what someone is?’ she responded, ‘you don’t, it’s a really western thing to have to put everyone in a category’.

“That was a recent incredible moment for me because where in London are you going to meet Samoan Fa’afafine person? It’s so educational.”

Deborah Frances-White performing on stage. (Supplied)

Deborah Frances-White performing on stage. (Supplied)

Recent years have seen attempts to pit feminism against trans rights. But The Guilty Feminist has long welcomed and platformed the trans community.

For Deborah Frances-White, it’s simple.

“The more trans friends you have, you stop thinking of being trans as one experience, just as cis womanhood is multiple different experiences.

“We all feel uncertain at times about our sexuality, our identity and there’s many ways to empathise with the queer experience no matter where you sit on the spectrum. You just ask, ‘What is it like for you to be human?'”

Deborah has long been an LGBTQ+ rights advocate, and has been exploring her own sexuality over the past few years.

Her journey of self-discovery started when researching for a TV show about Lula Bankhead, an American actress in the early to mid-1900s. 

“Lula Bankhead famously said: ‘My father warned me about men and booze, but never said a word about women and cocaine’. She identified as ambidextrous which I assume means she could f**k with both hands,” she jokes.

Lula became an “inspiration” for the comedian, who began to realise she is bisexual. She shared her feelings with her husband – and he fully supported her in exploring this aspect of her identity.

“I had no sooner began my bisexual journey than then March 2020 hit,” she explains.

“The shutters came down for a while. I think it’s a lifelong exploration that I feel very privileged to be able to explore.”

As Deborah looks towards the future, there is so much more to look forward to, both for herself and for the community The Guilty Feminist has managed to foster. 

Next year, she is hoping to start up “town halls” where people can come together to discuss solutions-based problems.

“So we take the problem of violence against women on the street and we say ‘if we were in charge, what would we do? How would we change things?'”, she says.

“Our audience is a treasure trove. It’s incredible. If you locked the doors of the average Guilty Feminist show, I reckon you could solve 25 per cent of the world’s problems.”